Haughey suspected air corps was spying on him

Master of political intrigue Charles Haughey believed the tables had been turned on him in the 1980s and suspected the air corps was being used to spy on his activities.

Languishing in opposition, Mr Haughey feared the Fine Gael/Labour government of 1982-87 may have ordered reconnaissance flights over his private Kerry island of Inishvickillane.

Haughey family papers donated to the Blasket Island Centre, Dunquin, reveal the level of the former taoiseach’s disquiet at the flights.

Writing to then finance minister Michael Noonan in 1985, Mr Haughey demanded to know the purpose of the air corps activity above his property and expressed “concerns” about their frequency.

Mr Noonan replied that the flights were intended to monitor trawler activity in the area.

Haughey was no stranger to surveillance himself as his tapping of the phones of journalists had been exposed by Mr Noonan.

And while justice minister in the 1960s, Haughey dipped into his own pocket to fund the secret service when he wrote a personal cheque for £3,000 and gave it to the Garda commissioner to pay an informant after the secret service budget had dried up. Mr Haughey was reimbursed at a later date for his financial outlay.

Money then dominated Haughey’s career and led to his final disgrace when the Moriarty Tribunal found he had used his position to amass a fortune worth around €75m in today’s money.

One abuse of his power centred on the Inishvickillane island when he ordered Air Corps helicopters to transport building supplies for the construction of his luxury house there.

The Haughey papers have been examined by blogger Owen O’Shea and reveal a number of insights into Haughey’s lust for glamour and the high life.

The seven boxes of papers and photographs also contain an offer of furniture from stage actor and producer Hilton Edwards.

Mr Edwards wanted to find a home for some armchairs he had commissioned for a play and suggested Haughey might like them.

Haughey expressed being “completely overwhelmed” by the offer, adding: “They would be absolutely right for my house on Inisvickillane and would certainly become a central feature of it. In addition, they would have their own sentimental and artistic associations.”

Mr Edwards and his partner, Micheál Mac Liamoir, were invited to dinner as a thank you.

Details come to light

Inishvickillane: ‘Like Shangri-La.’

* The visit to the island by French president Francois Mitterrand is well detailed in the papers — Mitterrand is another Western European leader believed to have used his position for huge financial gain.

* Would-be guests refused permission to land on the island included a Tyrone couple honeymooning along Ireland’s coast and a group of Southern Health Board workers who asked for a day trip there in 1981.

* The papers show Haughey’s attempts to populate the island with red deer and white tailed eagles had mixed results.

* Guests likened the island to Shangri-La and Haughey did allow some strangers in, such as a butterfly expert.

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